Friday, May 22, 2020

Late Night (2019)

Streaming Service: Amazon Prime Video
Movie Name/Year: Late Night (2019)
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Length:  102 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: 30West, Imperative Entertainment, Stage 6 Films, Amazon Studios, 3 Arts Entertainment, FilmNation Entertainment, Kaling International, 20th Century Fox, ARP Sélection, Entertainment One UK, Entertainment One, Falcon, Amazon Prime Video, Ascot Elite Entertainment Group, Netflix, Nova Cinema, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, Universal Pictures
Director: Nisha Ganatra
Writer: Mindy Kaling
Actors: Emma Thompson, Mindy Kaling, Denis O'Hare, Max Casella, John Lithgow, Hugh Dancy, Amy Ryan, Ike Barinholtz, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Paul Walter Hauser, Bill Maher

Blurb from IMDb: A late night talk show host suspects that she may soon lose her long-running show.

Cat’s Point of View:

I was excited that Late Night was our movie for today. It’s been a rough week and a comedy was just what the doctor ordered. In hindsight, I wish I’d put this movie a little higher on my Top 20 list for June 2019, but it was amusing that both Selina and I had this film as our #16 spot.

If asked for a comparison, I’d say Late Night is similar to The Devil Wears Prada (2006) but set in the late talk-show industry rather than fashion. This film touches on a lot of similar themes, yet at the same time is wildly different and more up-to-date.

Mindy Kaling (License to Wed, No Strings Attached, Inside Out) hit another home run with this movie. Her talent for both writing and performing comedy is pretty astounding. I was invested in her character rather quickly and everything flowed so well. I barely noticed the passing of time as the film progressed.

The rest of the cast is also pretty amazing. I am loving Dame Emma Thompson (Burnt, Beauty and the Beast, The Children Act) in this role that was written for her. There’s great chemistry in the dynamic she has on-screen with Kaling and the other cast members. John Lithgow (Leap Year, The Homesman, Beatriz at Dinner) and Denis O'Hare (True Blood, Danger One, Swallow) are among other cast members I was giddy to see in this project.

I loved the peek behind the scenes of the late-night talk show world, and some of the creative process that makes it go-round. I also appreciated the directness with which the film treated the issues that came up and, while the story is fiction, how it humanizes our favorite talk-show figures.

I wouldn’t hesitate to give someone the thumbs-up if requested for a recommendation here. I wouldn’t even mind watching it again.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 80%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 77%
Metascore – 70/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.1/10
IMDB Score – 6.5/10
CinemaScore – B+

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Oath (2018)

Streaming Service: Hulu
Movie Name/Year: The Oath (2018)
Genre: Comedy, Thriller
Length: 93 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Aperture Media Productions, QC Entertainment, Topic Studios, Roadside Attractions, Sony Pictures Worldwide
Director: Ike Barinholtz
Writer: Ike Barinholtz
Actors: Ike Barinholtz, Tiffany Haddish, Nora Dunn, Chris Ellis, Jon Barinholtz, Meredith Hagner, Carrie Brownstein, Jay Duplass, Billy Magnussen, John Cho, Priah Ferguson, Henry Kaufman, Max Greenfield, Jon Lovett

Blurb from IMDb: In a politically divided America, a man struggles to make it through the Thanksgiving holiday without destroying his family.

Selina’s Point of View:
I have no idea how I feel about The Oath.

As expected, it was wildly political. That said, it wasn’t so much about which side the film itself was on. Instead, the movie kind of explores the dangers of politics as a dividing factor. 

In general, I agree. Politics can divide an entire population. People get very strong opinions on certain subjects and it can lead to a ‘my way or the highway’ kind of thinking. It’s the state of the world at the moment and The Oath takes that idea, amps it to the extreme, and shines a light on it.

I have no problem with that. My problem is that I don’t know if I enjoyed it or not.

There are parts of the film that feel disturbingly realistic. It feels like events that, in a situation like the one portrayed, could actually happen. Those parts are terrifying. You see the growing obsessions, the conspiracy theories, and confrontations of people that shouldn’t be acceptable but have come to be the norm. It’s relatable enough to cause a tightness in the chest.

Then that same relatability delves into funnier aspects. There’s the nitpicking at a spouses wording. There’s the mom that acts like a walking obituary and the dad that kind of zones into the game. The siblings that love each other but can never agree on anything. It’s just a typical family and, a lot of the time, that dynamic can be easy to laugh with.

That’s where it also starts getting uncomfortable.

We’ve all been there. We’ve been invited to someone’s house for dinner. We sit down to eat, everything’s fine, then someone brings up that one hot button issue and everyone explodes. People are screaming across the table, cursing at each other, bringing up sensitive issues, and we’re left sitting there trying to eat and pretending we’ve suddenly gone deaf.

It’s not a good feeling to be in that situation. It’s incredibly awkward… which is where the majority of this film leaves the audience. As a highly uncomfortable fly on the wall.

I came away from The Oath kind of agreeing with the message, but also never wanting to see it again. Take that as you will.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 63%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 40%
Metascore – 58/100
Metacritic User Score – 4.0/10
IMDB Score – 5.4/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, May 18, 2020

Coffee & Kareem (2020)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Coffee & Kareem (2020)
Genre: Action, Comedy
Length: 88 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: Pacific Electric Picture Company, Netflix
Director: Michael Dowse
Writer: Shane Mack
Actors: Ed Helms, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Little Gardenhigh, Betty Gilpin, RonReaco Lee, David Alan Grier, Andrew Bachelor, William ‘Big Sleeps’ Stewart, Serge Houde, Eduard Witzke, Chance Hurstfield, Diana Bang, Erik McNamee, Samantha Cole, Terry Chen, Garfield Wilson, Arielle Tuliao

Blurb from IMDb: Twelve-year-old Kareem Manning hires a criminal to scare his mom's new boyfriend -police officer James Coffee - but it backfires, forcing Coffee and Kareem to team up in order to save themselves from Detroit's most ruthless drug kingpin.

Selina’s Point of View:
Although the title is a cute play on words, the movie really doesn’t live up to it.

The whole thing comes off as an attempt to update Cop & 1/2 (1993). Only, they took out anything that was cute or funny from the original and replaced it with full-on cringe and ‘too edgy for you’ script elements.

Now, Cop & 1/2 doesn’t have a great rating itself, but I’ll admit that I remember liking it. I haven’t seen it since I was about 13 so I can’t speak to how I’d feel about it at this point in my life, but it feels nostalgic to me. In the case of Coffee & Kareem I’m having trouble finding anything nice to say about it at all.

Taraji P. Henson (Empire, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Proud Mary) is the only thing that comes to mind. She’s a great actress and her character was the only one that I enjoyed watching. She plays a bad-ass single mom that would do anything to protect her family. First you see how that works in her dating life, later on it’s apparent in the more violent situations. If I have anything positive to say about the film it would have to do with Henson or her character.

Everything else was just awful. It was edge for the sake of edge. It was dressed up to try to masquerade as comedy, but it just didn’t work.

There are people who would enjoy this, but I wouldn’t even recommend it for a ‘turn your brain off’ movie night.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 20%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 31%
Metascore – 35/100
Metacritic User Score – 2.8/10
IMDB Score – 5.1/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating1.5/5

Movie Trailer: